Diseases That Can be Prevented By Eating Healthy

Eating a healthy diet, combined with exercise, can contribute to your body’s ability to prevent diseases and illnesses.

Eating healthy food not only keeps you in good physical shape by enabling you to get the right amount of nutrients, it also gives you the ability to prevent illnesses and diseases. Those with chronic conditions can experience a noticeable difference in their quality of life with a carefully planned diet. Depending on your condition, your nutrition may either reduce symptoms or improve your health.
Many people make up excuses for not eating healthy; below are just some of them:

  • “My family and friends don’t eat healthy so I end up eating what they eat.”
  • “I don’t know how to cook so I eat out all the time.”
  • “I’m too busy with work and don’t have time to eat healthy.”
  • “I’m very stressed and I need to eat what I want to reduce stress.”
  • “Life’s too short so you should eat what you want.”

While indulging in your cravings once in a while may be acceptable, you are ultimately doing yourself a disservice if you regularly eat unhealthy food. Junk food is usually loaded with carbohydrates, sugar, fat and sodium, and regular intake of these can lead to health problems down the road.

By eating healthy food, you can prevent diseases such as:

Heart Disease

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women. The good news is, in addition to exercise, you can help reduce your cholesterol and control blood pressure and blood sugar levels by being careful about what you eat. Some of the things you should remember include:

  • Replacing unhealthy fats such as trans fat (found in commercially-baked goods, packaged snack foods, fried foods) and saturated fat (found in dairy and animal products) with unsaturated fats (such as omega 3 found in salmon, flaxseed, spinach or monounsaturated fats found in almonds, cashews, peanuts and avocados).
  • Cutting down on sugar.
  • Avoiding salt and processed foods.
  • Making high-fiber foods a part of your diet.
  • Eating a variety of fruits and vegetables.
  • Controlling portion size and watching your weight.

Type 2 Diabetes

According to the World Health Organization, Type 2 diabetes, formerly referred to as non-insulin-dependent or adult-onset diabetes, comprises 90% of people with diabetes around the world. While it is striking an increasing number of adults, what’s most alarming is that it is recently occurring in children as well. Additionally, millions of Americans are walking around with this condition undiagnosed and unaware that they have it.

Many of the risk factors for this type of diabetes can be reduced by making lifestyle changes, such as weight loss, increased physical activity and healthy eating. According to the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, these dietary changes:

  • Replacing refined carbohydrates with whole grains and whole grain products.
  • Choosing healthier beverages like water, coffee or tea over sugary drinks.
  • Exchanging good fats for bad fats.
  • Limiting the intake of red meat and avoiding processed meat and consuming nuts, whole grains, poultry and fish instead.

Cancer

While there are a variety of factors that contribute to the risk of cancer, having a healthy diet can help us prevent this terrible disease. Consuming antioxidants, such as vitamin C, vitamin E, selenium, beta-carotene and lycopene, can bolster the body’s defenses. These nutrients are usually found in colorful fruits and vegetables:

  • Vitamin C – berries, broccoli, oranges, tomatoes, grapefruit, mangoes, papaya, cantaloupe, cauliflower.
  • Vitamin E – avocado, nuts, pumpkin, papaya, mangoes, sunflower seeds.
  • Selenium – tuna, beef, poultry, grain products.
  • Beta-carotene and other carotenoids – asparagus, beets, broccoli, corn, green peppers, kale, mangoes.
  • Lycopene – tomatoes, papaya, watermelon, guava.

Dementia and Alzheimer’s

A doctoral thesis published by the University of Eastern Finland revealed that eating a large amount of saturated fats was linked to decreased cognitive function and increased risk for dementia. The doctoral thesis author Margo Eskelinen, MSc. stated that, “Even those who are genetically susceptible can at least delay the onest of the disease by favoring vegetable oils, oil-based spreads and fatty fish in their diet.”

Including the following foods in your diet can help improve your mind:

  • Leafy vegetables – kale, spinach, collard greens, mustard greens.
  • Cruciferous vegetables – broccoli, cauliflower, bok choy, Brussels sprouts.
  • Beans and legumes
  • Whole grains – quinoa, gluten-free oats.
  • Berries and cherries
  • Various vegetables – pumpkin, squash, tomatoes, carrots, beets, asparagus.
  • Omega 3-rich foods
  • Nuts – peanuts, cashews, hazelnuts, pecans, almonds, walnuts.
  • Spices – cinnamon, sage, cumin, turmeric.